Amazing Grace

Today’s a new day! Remember hearing the word Grace after becoming a follower of Jesus? Oh how it stirred my emotions. Do you remember how sweet it was to sing about God’s Amazing Grace? Does God’s Grace still move you to truly love your neighbors? Does God’s Amazing Grace still move you to thankfulness? Does God’s Amazing Grace still lead you to tears? Are your emotions still moved when you sing that beautiful song Amazing Grace and reflect on God’s beautiful promises? ~OC

Make Life About Living

As I walked through my crazy beautiful health journey, I was blessed to learn many amazing lessons. Here are just a few of those lessons:

*Try Something New: Go skydiving, snorkeling, do a road trip with friends, or feed the hungry. It doesn’t matter what you do, just take a step outside of your comfort zone.

*Time With Family and Friends: I know during this pandemic that can be difficult. Maybe you cannot meet in person, but you can utilize Zoom or FaceTime. During that time put away all distractions. You might find out how amazing your family and friends really are.

*Capture Memories: I know everyone wants to document their adventures with pictures and videos, but don’t forget to truly experience the moment.

*Say No: Stop adding things to your plate. If you continuously say yes, you are going to miss out on life. Plus burn yourself out.

*Take Time For Yourself: It might only be for a few minutes, but do it. Spend time in prayer. Go for a walk. Read a book. Do something just for you.

*Encourage Someone: Everyone needs some uplifting words. It takes just a minute, but can change a life.

*Call or Text: Take time to call or text a loved one. This simple act could make their day.

*Say I Love You: Don’t miss the chance to tell your loved ones how you feel about them. Life is too short. ~OC

My Christmas Prayer

Dear Jesus, I offer this humble prayer as I celebrate your birth. I come to worship with a song of thanks, a song of redemption and love. I pray for joy in my heart, hope in You, love to forgive, peace and unity upon the world. I ask for the salvation of all my family and friends. I pray your beautiful blessings on all people. I pray you would comfort the hungry, broken, homeless, heal the sick, protect all healthcare workers, first responders and those in the military. I pray you bless me with your wisdom. I pray you would continue to fill me with the Holy Spirit. I pray you would give me a servants heart. I pray all this in the matchless name of Jesus Christ. Amen. ~OC

Your Love

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me since the beginning of time. You loved me before I took my first breath. You loved me before I ever loved you. You love me when I am unlovable. You love me when I don’t love others. You love me when I feel unloved. Your love keeps no wrongs. Your love is full of grace. I want to live my life has a testimony of your amazing love. Dear Jesus, show me where I fall short in loving you and others. Thank you dear Lord, that your love is everlasting. ~OC

Two Photos. Two Stories. One Miracle

Two Photos. Two Stories. One Miracle.

The picture of Laura West Shoemaker and I is from last year. We were spending the year making memories. Most of my medical team thought I would not make it through the year. I was down to 112 pounds, was on a feeding tube and could not speak without the assistance of a voice amplifier. Laura and I never gave up. We continued to pray for and believe in a miracle. That was the only way I would make it through 2019. But we never gave up hope.

The second photo is from this morning. I ran my 1.000th mile of 2020. I was surrounded by family and friends. As I completed the final steps of this incredible journey, I thought about the guy in that first photo. I thought about my amazing bride who has walked this crazy beautiful journey with me. I thought about everyone who has prayed for me the past 18 years. I thought about my amazing medical team. Shout out to 4South at Good Samaritan Medical Center. I thought about all the incredible people I have been blessed to meet over the years. I thought about those who have experienced the ultimate healing over the last 18 years. I thought back to 11/3/19, when I experienced my beautiful miracle. When I started running last December after my miracle, 1,000 miles in 2020 was not even on my radar. What a journey it has been.

What’s the future hold? Well, I will take the rest of 2020 off from running. In the past week, I found out I have a stress fracture in my lower left leg and a strained calf muscle on my right leg. With that said, I would do it all over again. So, I will spend the rest of the year resting and allowing my body to heal. Watch out 2021! ~OC

Two Photos. Two Stories. One Miracle.

Two photos. Two different stories. One miracle. When that photo with my Laura was taken last year, I was told I only had a few months to live. I only weighed 112 pounds, needed a voice amplifier to talk and was living off a feeding tube. The photo with the 700 miles sign, tells the story of a miracle. Two 10k’s run today=700 miles for 2020 and counting. God is good!!! ~OC

True Friendship

A few thoughts on True Friendship:

*True friends encourage you.
*True friends respect you.
*Tue friends support you.
*True friends stand by you.
*True friends reach out to you.

*True friends love you.
*True friends dance through the storms with you.

Obviously, this is just a small sample. Feel free to share your own list. ~OC

God’s Promises

God has promised to look after us…. to bring help. God, who defends us, who is far greater in strength than any storm life throws at us. God, who spoke and whose words caused the universe to be. His words are true and unfailing. If He promises something, He will deliver.~OC

How To Help

During my 17 year crazy beautiful health journey, I was often asked how people could help Laura and I. Here are a few suggestions:

Stay in Contact: Nothing brightens a patient’s day more than hearing from friends. It could be a phone call, visit or a simple text. Even when I could not eat or drink, I loved the interaction with friends. So never be afraid to call that loved one or friend. Also the doctors have shared keeping a person’s mind active is very important. So, when you are thinking about someone, take that opportunity to reach out to them. Do not miss out on a beautiful memory.

Remember to Check On The Caregiver: The caregiver can get lost during the journey. As my caregiver, Laura had the toughest job. Working full-time and taking care of me could be overwhelming. And remember, she did this for over 17 years. So, make sure you are asking about the caregivers physical, mental and emotional well-being. One of my main concerns during my journey, was that Laura take care of herself and enjoy life. A caregiver can always use a night out.

Don’t Start a Pity Party: Dealing with health issues is tough enough. At times people want to go crawl in a hole and isolate. Don’t let them do it. Offer some words of encouragement. Get them out of the house. Go make some memories. My journey was a tough one, but so many people had it tougher than me. Remember, a lady gave birth in a tree. True story!

Just listen: Sometimes hurting people just need someone to listen. Not to fix. Not to have all the answers. Just listening is a beautiful gift.

Be Flexible: The one thing about illness is everyday is different. My health issues bought new challenges each day. Sometimes each hour. So be flexible when dealing with a family member or friend struggling with health issues.

Learn About the Illness: Some people are dealing with illnesses we have never heard of, but asking questions and maybe a quick Google search can help. This can help you better support that loved one. Just don’t believe everything you read online.

Be Available: People dealing with health issues face different challenges. So be available to help when possible. That help could come in the form of bringing someone meals, sitting with someone during their treatment, visiting them in the hospital or transportation. For years, I could not drive based on my health issues. So, having rides to my appointments were important. I am thankful for my team of drivers during my journey. Getting out of the house and enjoying live is so important.

The Long Haul: Be there for your family and friends. Did I ever think my journey would last 17 years? No way! But what I learned was that some friends put an expiration date on how long they could endure my new normal. Having friends that have stuck it out and supported me has been a true blessing.

Acceptance: Stop comparing who someone was before they got sick, to the person they are now. Simply accept that who someone was and who they are now has changed. So when that family member or friend has a life changing experience, embrace the new them.

I hope this helps. There is really not a blueprint for this stuff. So don’t beat yourself up, if you say or do the wrong thing. The most important thing you can do is be present and engaged. ~OC

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